January 10th, 2011

Friedan on Freud in postwar US culture

location 2470ish in the kindle edition:

"The uncritical acceptance of Freudian doctrine in America was caused, at least in part, by the very relief it provided from uncomfortable questions about objective realities. After the depression, after the war, Freudian psychology became much more than a science of human behavior, a therapy for the suffering. It became an all-embracing American ideology, a new religion. It filled the vacuum of thought and purpose that existed for many for whom God, or flag, or bank account were no longer sufficient -- and yet who were tired of feeling responsible for lynchings and concentration camps and the starving children of India and Africa. It provided a convenient escape from the atom bomb, McCarthy, all the disconcerting problems that might spoil the taste of steaks, and cars and color television and backyard swimming pools. It gave us permission to suppress the troubling questions of the larger world and pursue our own personal pleasures. And if the new psychological religion -- which made a virtue of sex, removed all sin from private vice, and cast suspicion on high aspirations of the mind and spirit -- had a more devastating personal effect on women than men, nobody planned it that way."

That is a beautiful paragraph.